The World Health Organization called for strengthening regulatory cooperation and collaboration among countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region to further improve the availability, quality and safety of medical products.
"The South-East Asia Regulatory Network’s efforts to increase access to quality medical products is crucial to achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure healthy lives and promote health and well-being for all, at all ages,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said here.
WHO is committed to supporting SEARN to enhance country cooperation, and in doing so, work towards sharing regulatory resources. These outcomes will be especially useful to countries, she added.
Dr Khetrapal Singh was addressing the annual meeting of SEARN representatives from countries of the Region, which will develop a five-year strategic plan of action for the network. The meeting will also review progress made on quality assurance & standards of medical products; regulatory practices; vigilance of medical products; an Information Sharing Platform and medical devices and diagnostics.
The Information Sharing Platform (ISP) will be one of the key areas of discussion. Since its inception, the ISP Gateway is progressively expanding the data it stores across several key regulatory areas.
“As the ISP matures, I trust you will share alerts and confidential information to ensure quality medical products reach all people everywhere in our very large and diverse region. I urge all of you to make full use of the ISP Gateway to sustain and accelerate progress, and thereby maximize SEARN’s potential for innovation,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.
The SEARN representatives will also discuss efforts to build on the decisions taken at its second annual meeting in Colombo last year, and the network’s contribution to achieving the Delhi Declaration on Improving Access to Essential Medical Products, which was agreed by Ministers of Health from all Member States at the South-East Asia Regional Committee in September last year.
That declaration included a call for allocation of sufficient financial resources for essential medical products by countries, as part of overall health financing strategies to reduce out-of-pocket payments by families, and agreements to strengthen national policies, pricing, procurement, regulation, supply chain management, and capacity to leverage intellectual property and trade for public health, to improve access to medicines and vaccines.